May 7 - Iron Man 3 kicks off the Hollywood summer blockbuster season with well nearly two dozen high-profile flicks scheduled to hit the big screen between April and September, which of the studios are best positioned and most at risk? Conway G. Gittens takes a look.
THIS STORY WAS ORIGINALLY SENT ON MONDAY, MAY 06, AND IS BEING RESENT DUE A TECHNICAL GLITCH WITH SECOND SOUNDBITE. Iron Man is back! And boy is Hollywood happy to see him. The box office is down 12 percent from last year in dollar terms, and so is attendance, according to boxofficemojo.com. The third installment in the Disney/Marvel Studios franchise ushers in the key summer blockbuster season with the second-best domestic debut in history. It raked in more than $174 million in North American ticket sales, according to updated figures from Disney. Adding in the international market since its debut the weekend before - "Iron Man 3" is flying high with over $677 million in box office receipts. That sets Disney up as the movie studio to beat this summer - after The Avengers knocked down records last summer - says Porter Bibb. He's managing partner at MediaTech Capital Partners. SOUNDBITE: PORTER BIBB, MANAGING PARTNER, MEDIATECH CAPITAL PARTNERS (ENGLISH) SAYING: "Iron Man 3 is very likely this coming weekend to break a billion dollars in worldwide box office. It could become the biggest earnings picture of all time. It has to go against Titanic, but it's on track right now to beat the pants off of Titanic and put Disney in a very strong position." Disney, however, has an unknown when it comes to "The Lone Ranger." There are a total of 22 blockbusters slated for release between May and September, up from about 14 the year before, in a season which typically makes up 40 percent of annual ticket sales. You have your normal cast of characters - Super Heroes and sequels - almost sure money winners. But that's why Comcast's Universal is so vulnerable. Its offer this year: an update to its aging "Fast and Furious" franchise. And "Oblivion" was obliterated despite usual box office gold Tom Cruise. SOUNDBITE: PORTER BIBB, MANAGING DIRECTOR, MEDIATECH CAPITAL PARTNERS (ENGLISH) SAYING: "It was a big, big disappointment. Tom Cruise did not pull people into the box office the way Universal thought. It got basically skunked this weekend by Iron Man 3. I think Universal did less than $5 million. That's not a Tom Cruise blockbuster for sure." REPORTER BRIDGE: CONWAY G. GITTENS, REUTERS (ENGLISH) SAYING: Warner Brothers needs a winner this summer after a disappointing year. It is releasing no less than four big budget flicks including" The Hangover 3". But its latest take on Superman called "Man of Steel" will be key. It's last Superman film - flopped. The other studios are also in precarious states. Paramount is pinning its summer on "Star Trek: Into the Darkness" with its Brad Pitt backed "World War Z" already over budget and less likely to turn a profit. One movie studio noticeably absent from the entire summer blockbuster race is LionsGate. It's saving its muscle for the fall, when it releases the highly anticipated follow up "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire."